Category Archives: Paintings


Clouds have to be one of my favourite things to look at.  They are constantly changing, come in many forms and have an element of mystery to them.  Until the nineteenth century, they were all just called “essences” as nobody thought to classify or name the different types.

In 1802, a 30-year-old amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard, decided to categorize and name them.  He presented his findings to the Askesian Society in London, his work was accepted and is what we still use today.

I find clouds to be one of the most difficult things to paint.  The reason for this is that usually when I draw or paint anything I use a technique called the “Form Principle.”  The Form Principle is a way of representing the way light and shadow fall on objects.  This works well for painting solid objects as you think of the shape of the object you want to represent, then decide where the light source is, and this guides you as to where you put your light areas and shadows.


Diagram illustrating the Form Principle.  Artist Unknown


Unfortunately, this technique has only limited success when painting clouds.  The problem with this is you wind up with clouds that look solid – and that is not good.

When you observe clouds in the sky, the light not only hits the surface of them, it penetrates and scatters inside them; it is a phenomenon called sub-surface scattering.  If you have ever put a flashlight behind your fingers and noticed the way the light makes the outer edges of your fingers glow you have experienced what subsurface scattering is. This is the key to making clouds look believable.  Even at this point, though, you need to think about what kind of cloud it is an how its masses are formed.  The density of water droplets inside them will change the way light interacts with them.


Below, I have painted over the previous diagram.  The form layer is still there, but the light comes through the sphere spreading the highlight out to a much broader area, filling out to the edges and illuminating the area that follows the path of the light rays (the area in this diagram right below the reflected light). The area outside the sphere has a bit of a glow, but not too much.  Even though clouds aren’t solid, they often appear to have defined edges.


The diagram above still doesn’t look like a cloud, though.  What is wrong with the picture is that it is not built like a cloud.  Believe it or not, clouds do have structure.  I’ll update this post soon with some thoughts about the anatomy of clouds.

Red Clouds

I created the two paintings above using Artrage on my iPad.  I have a few more in progress and will add them to this post soon.


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Here are some story panels I did for Disney’s Planes in 2013.  The process for these was to take the 3D character models in Maya, light and render them and create the simple 3D backgrounds. The main portion of this task was combining all the elements and creating a digital painting in Photoshop.  One of the challenges for these was to make sure the planes are always positioned so you can see their mouths -so you can read their expressions.  This task was much easier on Cars as their mouths are right at the front.  With Planes, the long fuselages presented a challenge.



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50 Canadians

Earlier this year I started a new series of portraits of Canadians,  The first one I did was of CBC’s Rex Murphy followed by a portrait of Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin.  I met the mayor today and presented the painting to him.  I was thrilled when he said it was “more than amazing”.

I plan on doing fifty of these and have two more in progress right now.  They are three by five inches, acrylic on canvas.

Here are the first two:

Rex MurphyMayor Dean Fortin


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Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Paintings


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Andrew Loomis, for what it’s worth.

A few months back as I was working on a series of digital paintings on my iPod I decided to try something like a figure drawing.  Up to this point I’d only done portraits – mainly because of the small screen size – and I suppose I’m more drawn to portraits, anyway.

A friend of mine told me about the work of Andrew Loomis and I picked up a copy of his book, Figure Drawing: For All it’s Worth.  I decided to do a study of one of his drawings, only paint it in a style reminiscent of Gil Elvgren.

It was fun to do, but painting this small is a real challenge – getting the face right was the hardest part.  Anyway, here it is:

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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Digital Painting, Paintings


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My Cat, Nina. 1996-2012

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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Paintings


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Brushes portraits continued…

This is the latest portrait I’ve done in the Held series.  Like the others I painted it on my iPod touch.  This one is based on a mugshot from the 1920’s.

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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Paintings


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Brushes on the iPod touch: Series 3

The third series I’ve been working on is portraits of my family.   My son was interested in the portraits that have become the Held series and asked if I would paint his portrait, too.  I had him sit for me a few times.  I  don’t think I’ve completed a piece that I’ve had as much emotional investment in before.

He wore that red shirt specially for this portrait – it’s actually a Smurfs shirt.  I didn’t put that in, though, as I thought it would be distracting.  I have three other portraits in progress for this series (including one of my cat) which I will be posting soon.

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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Paintings


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